In 2013 I went on family holiday to Ölüdeniz in Turkey, Whilst there my sister and I decided we should definitely try out paragliding. Paragliding is on my bucket list and Ölüdeniz is home to the best paragliding in Europe. It would have been silly not to take advantage of that. So we booked a trip with Sky Sports Paragliding and soon were on our way up the mountain.
As I said Ölüdeniz is home to one of the best paragliding spots in Europe. It is also one of the highest commercial take off sites in the world. The launch off point is at the top of Babadag mountain at 6,500ft (1,960m). I must say the journey up the mountain was more nerve wracking than the journey down! We were in a van driving up a gravel road that more closely resembled an abandoned pathway. This road was steep, winding and had a sheer drop immediately to the left with no kind of barrier. The driver was either very confident or was simply not aware of how close we were to the edge.
Amazingly we did make it up in one piece so now we just had to get back down. We were kitted up and watched as others launched themselves off the mountain. As it is such a popular activity there are loads of companies. It was incredible to see them all running off and slowly drifting off into the distance. Take off wasn’t about jumping off a cliff. It was actually a paved surface which curved downhill. All you had to do was run a few steps and the wind would catch the wing/canopy (the big bit of fabric which keeps you up).
Suddenly it was our turn. We were each hooked up to our pilot and ran off the mountain. The wind picked me up and suddenly I was sitting and we were gliding. It was incredible. Within an instant I was separated from the hustle and bustle of other tourists preparing to paraglide and it was simply quiet. I could see the mountain behind me littered with goats, ahead of me was the ocean and in the distance the famous Blue Lagoon. It was so peaceful.
We drifted down and I enjoyed the view. It was spectacular. The pilot then offered me the chance to steer. It was pretty simple using two pulleys that directed us left or right. Luckily it was pretty easy and we were far enough away from the mountain that I couldn’t really go wrong. The pilot then took over again and we had a bit of fun. We started spiralling down doing some acrobatic type moves with twists and turns. It was a lot of fun and gave a bit of an adrenaline rush. Of course the more we did of these the faster we would descend and the sooner the experience would be over. Therefore we only did a few tricks but I enjoyed having the variation in there.
The great thing about paragliding is that the pilot is controlling it all. If you did just want a relaxing journey all the way down you could choose to do so. On the other hand if you were all about the adrenaline you could descend much faster doing some more tricks. The flight time is a minimum of 25 minutes but it can be up to 45 minutes. I was in the air for about 40minutes which was a good amount of time.
Coming In To Land
Our landing zone was right on the beach. It was also right by where we were staying so my mum and brothers had torn themselves away from the poolside to come and watch us land. The gliders come in low and descend over the town heading towards to the sea. I wish I could say my landing was graceful but it wasn’t in the slightest. The theory is to stand up and start running as you come closer to the ground. Of course trying to stand up when you sitting in mid air is a really weird thing to try. Therefore I did just kind of land on my bum. No points for style.
The entire experience was just amazing. We went back to the shop to see the photos which were taken of us on the way down and I was really chuffed with them. It did require forking out for them as they weren’t included which was annoying but it was worth it to get the photos. Of course I had also taken photos on my way down using my own cheap digital camera. Despite the camera not being the best quality the photos still came out amazingly which really is a testament to how stunning it was.
I would definitely recommend paragliding. If you’re not quite brave enough to do the skydiving thing then this could be a good stepping stone. Paragliding is essentially the second half of the skydive experience. You get all the views but without the launching yourself out of an aeroplane part.
Have you ever been paragliding?